During a 2½ year period starting at the end of 2007, the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in secret bailouts to banks and other companies around the world, according to a government audit of some of the U.S. central bank’s operations.
Much of the Fed's largesse was lavished on banks in Europe (such as Barclays, pictured) and Asia, the audit revealed. More than $3 trillion, for example, went to financial institutions in just five European countries. Trillions more flowed toward some of the biggest banks in America. Institutions from Brazil and Mexico to South Korea and Canada also benefited.
The 266-page report, produced by Congress’s non-partisan investigative service known as the Government Accountability Office (GAO), has already sparked intense outrage since its release on July 21.
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Photo: The Barclays Group is based in Canary Wharf in London's financial district.